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In Full Colour

University of Waterloo

Alone (2021)


December 31, 2022

Tuning / Blend 4.3
Energy / Intensity 4.3
Innovation / Creativity 4.0
Soloists 4.3
Sound / Production 4.0
Repeat Listenability 3.3
1 Alone Together 4.3
2 I Wanted 4.7

Recorded 2021
Total time: 8:44, 2 songs

Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 4
1 Alone Together 4
2 I Wanted 4

In Full Colour brings full a cappella energy from north of the 49th parallel, thanks to this short EP from the University of Waterloo's mixed-voice a cappella ensemble. The two tracks are charming in overall effect, with good voices and creative arrangements that make the most of what are, to me anyway, fairly generic songs. When I'm not listening to this record, I don't especially remember how these tunes go, but I remember how the group varies the layering, harmonies, and vocal percussion to keep the tracks from dragging.

Zhengmao Ouyang and Clive Chan's arrangement of Alone Together is my favorite of the two settings. On I Wanted, Alisa Lin and Zack Yew put together a lot of interesting moments but also lean on parallel octaves in a way that doesn't quite work for me. In both cases, the singing and the arranging overshadow the songs themselves, which is entirely to In Full Colour's credit.

The group sounds young to me, in voice and in vibe, which gives the tracks their anchor. While the music may be generic, this particular music was made by a dedicated group of singers at a specific place and time. It's nice to hear their vision and see them stretching their wings.

Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 3
1 Alone Together 5
2 I Wanted 5

This two-track EP from the University of Waterloo's In Full Colour is like the best appetizer on the menu, so satisfying it could pass for a full meal.

Food metaphors are nice, but this release actually presents itself as a long-form poem. We can justify poetic comparisions because these two tracks are originals! The haunting music, the poignant words, this is a big deal. The title of the release, Alone, moving to Alone Together, and then I Wanted. I wanted us alone, together. "But it hurt me more to stay, than to leave." That's the message you'll hear from the pleading leads in these two tracks. It's a nine-minute punch in the gut, so prepare accordingly, because I wasn't prepared to listen to this aching story unfold down the interstate.

From the first chords of Alone Together, by songwriter Alisa Lin, this is a keeper, this is what permanence sounds like. The lead from Trinity Mathurin is so delicate, so enchanting, and offers us, "You wouldn't believe what happened to me…". Paired against the lush ensemble that deeply understands emotional connections with each push and pull across measures, with big sonic splashes to reach the listeners, it's incredible. You'll hold you breath from the first notes to the last. The arrangement and mix makes the most of the setting.

As the group transitions to I Wanted by songwriter Elysia Wang, it's simply a continuation of what In Full Colour started. It's the other side of the conversation in our heads. It's the big confession. The group keeps a similar tempo, and the same blend to the colors, and adds more prominence to the percussion patterns to drive it home. The only issue is the repeat listenability of this release: how many times can you let someone sit on your chest through your ears?

Divine, absolutely divine. Listen to Alone with caution, but listen soon…

Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 3
1 Alone Together 4
2 I Wanted 5

This is a very special "album". It's two songs, but they're both almost entirely in-house productions. The songs are original lyrics by group members, arranged by group members, and recorded and edited by the group. That's a huge undertaking and one heck of an introduction from an ensemble that has never been reviewed at RARB before.

Alone Together tells the story of wanting to not become a forgotten love. It's refreshing to see a group that's not limited to using another artist's words. The music can ebb and flow exactly how they want it to. Arrangers Zhengmao Ouyang and Clive Chan did a wonderful job of capturing Alisa Lin's lyrics and breathing life into them. This song ebbs and flows, feeling almost in touch with the emotions the group wants to convey. I have a hard time following the overall song, as it feels much closer to a train of thought than the standard verse and chorus progression that many songs follow. The result feels almost surprised by the climactic moments, as they seem to come out of the blue.

I Wanted is the heartbreaking realization of why a breakup needs to happen and wanting to move on. Songwriter and soloist Elysia Wang tells the story beautifully. I'm completely enamored with Alisa Lin and Zack Yew's arranging, as it works well to rise and fall and support the soloist at every turn. This is paired with well-executed polyphony and colorful chords.

With only two songs, it's hard to give a full evaluation. As a reviewer, I find myself nitpicking every single chord for material to write about. However, that might also be because there's a lot to love but not enough to have more examples to talk about. Therefore, the only thing I can ask for is more material to review. This is a great start, but we need to hear more from the group to fully evaluate. The group's next releases will tell if this is a level of quality that's here to stay, or if there's still plenty of growth in the group's future.


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Ordering Information

Alone streams on Spotify

  • Apple Music
  • Spotify